The office guide to fashion suicide: flip-flops, shorts, hoodies

Fine for the beach, not so much at the office. American workers also aren't big fans of hoodies and shorts in the cubicle.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

If you’re rolling into work wearing ripped jeans, strapless tops, a hoodie and flip-flops, know this: Your colleagues disapprove.

The vast majority of American workers don’t consider the Mark Zuckerburg fashion special to be appropriate attire for the office, according to a new report from staffing and recruiting agency Adecco USA.

More than seven in 10 employees surveyed said they frown on holey jeans, thong sandals and tops or dresses with no straps or backs. More than half said they look down on co-workers clad in hoodies, short skirts or pants.

About half said they think that cubicle-dwellers wearing leggings aren’t being sartorially smart. Less offensive, but still not popular: white socks with black shoes, sneakers, open-toed shoes, sleeveless garb and even jeans matched with blazers.


Employees seem to be getting more finicky about how their colleagues dress. The 7% of respondents who said last year that they don’t have a problem with any of the above options has since shrunk to 3%.

Maybe it’s time to pull out the gray flannel suit. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that Swiss bank UBS was micromanaging employee garb down to the underwear (flesh-colored only, please).

But maybe ditch the tie. Some bosses, such as Virgin’s Richard Branson, consider the neck gear to be stifling for creativity.

“Being comfortable and confident in what you are wearing can only help people come up with more innovative and original thoughts,” Branson wrote on his blog in May. “It’s a little thing, but can make all the difference.”


Flouting the dress code isn’t the only way to offend your co-workers, according to Adecco.

Nearly half of workers said they are annoyed by associates who clip or bite their nails; 43% said they get grossed out when colleagues take their shoes off. And nearly three in 10 said they don’t want to see officemates’ tattoos or their hair-brushing and makeup-applying routines.


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